Friday December 14, 2012

DUMMERSTON -- A rabid skunk has been discovered in East Dummerston, prompting public health officials to remind residents to vaccinate their pets and livestock.

It is just the second confirmed rabies case in Windham County this year, according to state Department of Health statistics. But overall, officials say such incidents are not rare.

"We do hear about them a lot," said Robert Stirewalt, a health department spokesman. "The veterinarians report them to us."

The skunk was found in the Falk Road area. Describing the animal as "feisty," Dr. Robert Johnson -- Vermont’s public health veterinarian -- said the skunk "had quills in its face and was caught in a Havahart trap near some chickens."

The case was confirmed Thursday but happened several days ago, as there was a delay in getting the skunk tested at the health department’s laboratory.

"The skunk went to the local hospital for courier transport to the lab, but it smelled so bad it was rejected by the courier," Johnson wrote in an e-mail.

"So we got it out of the hospital and back to the veterinarian so it could be decapped and deodorized, then it was shipped up by the health department via UPS to the laboratory."

Officials reiterated that there are several rabies-related resources for residents: The Vermont rabies hotline is 1-800-472-2437 (1-800-4-RABIES).

Also, there is information about rabies prevention, vaccination and other matters available at